The South African Primary and Secondary Education Sector
This report focuses on South Africa’s primary and secondary education sector where in 2015 there were 12,814,473 learners in 25,691 ordinary public and independent schools taught by 416,093 educators. The budget for the Department of Basic Education (DBE) will increase from R204bn in the 2016/2017 financial year to R254bn in 2018/19. Despite this and the fact that South Africa spends more on education than any other African country, approximately 6% of its GDP, the public education sector is in a state of crisis. In the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index for 2015/2016, South Africa was ranked 138th out of 140 economies for the quality of its public education system and for the second successive year the country took bottom place for the quality of its Mathematics and Science education.
The language of teaching and learning, corruption and mismanagement of schools, a lack of sufficiently qualified and dedicated teaching staff and the large number of remote under-resourced rural schools are some of the problems facing the education system. South African primary schools are failing to equip learners with basic literacy and numeracy skills and half of those who start school in Grade 1 drop out before the National Senior Certificate/matric exams in Grade 12. Although the official 2015 matric pass rate was 70.7%, down from 75.8% in 2014, stakeholders estimate the 2015 cohort matric pass rate at between 42.2% and 43.7%.
The Primary and Secondary Education report describes current conditions, how the crisis in education has fuelled the growth of independent/private schools and initiatives to improve the quality of education in state schools. The report profiles Curro Holdings, South Africa’s largest private education firm in the primary and secondary sector operating 110 schools on 47 campuses. Its closest competitor, Advtech, which over the last two years has spent R2bn buying and expanding schools, is also profiled as is eAdvance (Pty) Ltd t/a SPARK Schools, a network of less expensive private schools based in Gauteng.